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Peer Comment

Peer Comment:

Hello Dave,

You are absolutely right about Metallica, being a part of everyone’s vocabulary, especially if you like Metal Music. I think what is so interesting about Metallica, is that even though they are Metal, I have noticed that their music appeals to individuals that aren’t necessarily into this genre of music. I liked your blog post a lot, I learned a lot about Metallica that I didn’t know already. They were perfectionists and you can really hear that in their music, and the way they channeled their creativity was interesting as well to read about. One of my all time favorite bands, thanks for the informative blog post.

Regards, Charlene Beverly

Blondie - Parallel Lines

Blondie’s album Parallel Lines has been consistently ranked as one of the Top 100 albums of all time. It was a very big seller as well, with over 30 million copies that have been sold to date. Although they had previously released two albums prior to Parallel lines, this was their breakout album. They were catapulted to super stardom in 1978, and they would become pop icons.  They released “Heart of Glass” as a single from the album, which reached number one in the United States and United Kingdom. Blondie was a mix of disco, pop and punk, and Parallel Lines helped to put them in mainstream music. This was their third album, previous albums were not successful with any hits, while Parallel Lines became a huge hit and put Blondie in the spotlight.

Mike Chapman was a British pop music producer and produced Parallel lines for Blondie. Mike Chapman’s methods were more driven and serious than their previous producer Richard Gottehrer. “It was diametrically opposite from working with Richard Gottehrer. He’s very laid back and Mike is a real hot chili pepper and very energetic and enthusiastic. Mike would strive for the technically impeccable take so we would do take after take whereas Richard always went for the inspired take.” (Deborah Harry) The new success can be attributed to Mike Chapman, and his new production style, that made Blondie appeal to more listeners. Parallel Lines success can also be related to the songwriting, which every member in the bad contributed to.

One of the bands biggest hits, “One Way or Another”, has a tough female take no prisoners attitude to the song, and Pat Benatar was inspired by this, and two years later she has a number one hit single with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. Blondie and the lead singer Deborah Harry inspired many female acts to follow in her footsteps like Madonna, Pat Benatar and Lady Gaga.  “Sunday Girl” is a Motown and Beach Boys influenced song, and shows how past bands and artists influenced Blondie. Parallel Lines is a masterpiece, with six hits on the album. Blondie had finally found a perfect combination in production and band members, which made it all come together.

Blondie’s Parallel Lines is timeless. Parallel Lines is my favorite Blondie album and truly a real masterpiece. The album is a conundrum of ideas and creativity coming together so well. The album is edgy at times, and carefree other times. You can hear pop, punk, reggae, and rock influences throughout the album, I find the variety of genres, in each song make this album very interesting. As a Music Producer, this album has a wealth of knowledge to learn from. I love the idea of blending all the different genres to make a unique sound, the way that Blondie has accomplished in their Parallel Lines album. They appear to have very few limitations and boundaries in the production style, and this has given them a clear edge in allowing the creativity to shine.

Charlene Beverly




Peer Comment

This is my Peer Comment:

Hi there Cyril,

I actually learned a lot from your Blog Post on Ray Kurtzweil. It is so interesting to know all the years of work and innovation that goes into the hardware that we use today. The synthesizers have really come a long way, over the years. I have even seen a big difference in the capabilities, in the last ten or so years alone. Technology and music have really evolved well together in ways they probably could never have imagined in the beginnings of electronic music. Thank you for the very informative blog post. 

Regards, Charlene Beverly

The Human League

The Human League was an English electronic band, formed in Sheffield, England. They were able to break into mainstream pop music, with their innovative electronic style, using synthesizers and catchy melodies. In 1977 Martyn Ware and Ian Marsh, both synth players, started the band and later brought in Phil Oakey, a vocalist. The Human League was very influenced by Kraftwerk, and they were able to take that influence along with state of the art electronic equipment and become know as synth-pop superstars.

Phil Oakey proved to be a leader in the Human League and as the band evolved over time, new members joined while some left. Phil Oakey brought in two new female vocalist, Joanne Catherall and Susanne Ann Sulley. The addition of the female vocals contributed to the bands success, and was a very good decision by Phil Oakey.

The Human League’s breakthrough into mainstream pop music came with the single, “Don’t you want me”, from the album, Dare. The song was a success and a very big hit in England and the United States. Then they followed with more hits like “Fascination” and “Mirror Man”. When they began to tour, they also incorporated art into their shows, with a slideshow of images.

What I enjoy about the Human League, is that they were able to take the electronic music, and make it more mainstream. I think that they learned from their predecessors like Kraftwerk and made a more cohesive song, that sounded very well put together. They seemed to make electronic music more popular too.


(The Human League)


Kraftwerk was formed by Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider in Dusseldorf, Germany. They met while attending Dusseldorf Conservatory, as students studying classical music. They created electronic music and described their music as “robot-pop”.  The image of Kraftwerk was found in their environment at the time, the sounds of German factories and the language. They had electronic keyboards and amplifiers, and a recording studio called Kling Klang.  “Kraftwerk is not a band, It’s a concept. We call it ’Die Menschmaschine,’ which means’ the human machine.’ We are not the band. I am me. Ralf is Ralf. And Kraftwerk is a vehicle for our ideas.” (Florian Schneider).


In 1974, Kraftwerk releases Autobahn with Mercury, and it was successful, reaching number five on the Billboard charts. Autobahn establishes the electronic music of Kraftwerk in the mainstream audiences, and becomes an international hit. In 1976 they release Radioactivity with Capitol, which influences the work of David Bowie, and Neil Young. Radioactivity is another concept album, exploring music and radioactivity. This album was released in English and German, due to their growing global popularity. In 1977, Kraftwerk releases Trans-Europe Express with Capitol, with the new concept being train travel. This album further establishes their electronic music, and along with the album to follow, The Man Machine released in 1978, with Capitol. They release Computer World in 1981 with Warner Bros., a theme regarding the worlds dependence on technology and computers at the time.

 Kraftwerk was very successful using a concept and theme for their albums. They were affected by their environment and used this to conceptualize their music. You can see this with each albums release, and there is a connection to the theme and what is affecting their lives at that time, or even the world. Kraftwerk is also one of the first to use a vocoder to alter the human voice. Although their lyrics were very simple, they still used a machine to express this as well, combining human and machine, another theme they used.

When I listen to Kraftwerk, it made me recall a lot of music that I have listened to, that has been directly impacted by Kraftwerk. They have definitely contributed to the music we listen to today, and their willingness to experiment, and think outside the box was phenomenal. I think we can all learn a very valuable lesson from Kraftwerk, they made their own music and style by not being afraid to try new things. 

Peer Comment

This is my peer comment for:

Hi Dave,

I completely agree with your comments that you either love The Velvet Underground or you don’t. I had to listen to the album several times before it really started to click for me, you can’t listen just once, you have to go back a few times to understand them, they were very misunderstood. I think with The Velvet Underground, it is an acquired taste, particularly for the time period when the album was released. I am so glad to have learned more about them, and the story behind The Velvet Underground, because I didn’t know much about them before. I can now say that I appreciate The Velvet Underground, and I do love their music and I admire their innovations and bravery to be themselves. 

Have a Great Day!

Charlene Beverly

Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On.

Marvin Gaye was released from the Air Force in 1957. When he returned home, he quickly joined a doo-wop group, The Marquees. In 1958, The Marquees merge with the Moonglows. For the next few years, Marvin is traveling around with the band and other musicians, in an attempt to learn the ropes and train himself in professionalism and technical skills.  Marvin Gaye began to show musical ability, and after the Moonglows disbanded Harvey Fuqua, helped him to get signed with Anna Label, a subsidiary of Motown in 1960. In the same year, he meets Berry Gordy and signs with Tamla. Each year, Marvin Gaye is making progress in his career, and his experience is making others see him as a legitimate musician.  From 1961-1966, Marvin releases a string of albums with Motown, with his first hit single, Stubborn Kind of Fellow, in 1962. Marvin’s career as a musician was beginning to become more and more successful. His smooth strong vocals delivered love ballads so perfectly. His style was compared to Nat King Cole, and he had 39 top 40 hits while he was with Motown.

Marvin Gaye would go through a series of hardships in 1970. His brother Frankie returns from Vietnam, telling him the horror of his experiences there. Marvin is so moved by his brother’s stories of Vietnam; it starts his new journey of focusing on the social issues of his time, in his music. This same time he also loses his duet partner, Tammi Terrell to a brain tumor.

Obie Benson of the Four Tops wrote the lyrics to the song What’s Going On. While he was in San Francisco in 1969, he began to notice the injustices that he came across and witnessed on the streets, particularly police brutality against the innocent. It made him question, what is going on? These injustices troubled Obie Benson, and he translated his experiences into the lyrics of What’s Going On.

Obie Benson approached Marvin Gaye with his new song, What’s Going On. Marvin loved the song and thought it would be a good song for the Originals, a quartet he was producing at that time.  Benson did not want this, and gave Marvin an ultimatum, that he sing the song and get a percentage of the profits, or nothing at all if someone else does the song. Marvin agrees to Obie Bensons terms, and he sets out to add his personal touch to the song. “He added lyrics, and he added some spice to the melody. He added some things that were more ghetto, more natural, which made it seem more like a story than a song. He made it visual. He absorbed himself to the extent that when you heard the song you could see the people and feel the hurt and pain. We measured him for the suit, and he tailored it.” (Obie Benson)

Marvin Gaye arranged to record the song with David Van De Pitte and the Funk Brothers, paying for the recording sessions with his own money. During the recording process, an engineer Ken Sands mistakenly played two vocal recordings simultaneously for Marvin Gaye, and Marvin Gaye loved the way it sounded. The double lead vocals, led to his signature style for future recordings. “That double lead voice was a mistake on my part,” engineer Ken Sands told Ben Edmonds. “Marvin cut two lead vocals, and wanted me to prepare a tape with the rhythm track up in the middle and each of his vocals on separate tracks so he could compare them. Once I played that stereo mix on a mono machine and he heard both voices at the same time by accident. He loved it.” (Ken Sands)

Another interesting aspect of the recording process is the opening saxophone, played by Eli Fontaine. Eli was in the studio, warming up for the session, when Marvin stops the tape, and tells him that he could go home. Eli didn’t understand, and explained that he was only goofing around. “We’ve already got what we need,” “Well, you goof exquisitely,” Marvin said. (Marvin Gaye)

When Marvin Gaye approached his boss, Berry Gordy to gain his approval for What’s Going On, he was met with criticism. Berry Gordy was not impressed, and told Marvin that it would ruin his career.  The quality control at Motown turned the song down. Berry Gordy tried to block its release claiming it was “the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” (Berry Gordy) While Gordy was busy on other projects, the song What’s Going On was released. It reached number one on the R&B chart, and was a major milestone in Marvin Gaye’s career.

I really love this song, especially after knowing the journey involved in creating What’s Going On. It is like a piece of history, it tells a story of that time period, and reminds us all of the hardships of the past. Obie Benson it original creator, couldn’t have made a better choice, than Marvin Gaye. Marvin took the song and made it all happen, with several obstacles that almost stopped this song from ever being released. I enjoy the story behind the song, and I feel that Marvin’s personal touch and smooth voice, made What’s Going On, come to life.


Marvin Gaye 1971

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